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Eye to eye: The Authors Guild, Random House, and GBS

August 24th, 2010 Posted in Digital Books, Google Book Search | digg it blank

At the end of July 2010, a well known agent, Andrew Wylie, created his own publishing company, Odyssey Editions, and licensed a set of classic backlist titles in new electronic editions exclusively to Amazon for a two-year period. These titles had not been released as ebooks by their print publishers, and the authors or their estates had been unable to negotiate attractive enough deals to culminate new arrangements. They are not obscure titles: they include works such as Lolita (Nabokov), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Thompson), and the Rabbit series by John Updike (who, when previously breathing, was) a reluctant entrant into the digital age.

In this particular case, Random House – the publishing company most persistent and notorious for its aggressive pursuit of electronic rights from its backlist authors, responded aggressively by disputing Wylie’s ability to exploit their author’s titles, alleging that Wylie had set himself up as a direct competitor to Random, and by refusing to negotiate with Wylie over any additional titles.

The issues behind this dispute are complex, but at its heart is the fact that e-rights were not clearly negotiated with authors before the digital technology for ebook creation and distribution became more widely disseminated in the 1980s. This is not a surprise: it’s hard for pundits to accurately predict the intercourse of media and technology, just as much as it remains difficult to forecast weather beyond 48 or 72 hours. As a result, the right to publish digital editions, and the royalty rates that would accrue to authors for those publications, are often opaque to the stakeholders and subject to negotiation. Or litigation.

In fact, the landmark legal precedent in this case was a 2002 denial of a preliminary injunction, Random House v. Rosetta Books [pdf], by a judge in the Southern District of New York. The court ruled that Random House was unlikely to succeed on the merits of its allegations. Among other organizations filing supportive briefs was the Authors Guild (AG), an agency that represents a relatively small number of authors; its filing was submitted by an attorney named Michael Boni.

The Authors Guild (AG) reacted to Random House’s threats in the Wylie imbroglio with a chastising note:

To a large extent, publishers have brought this on themselves. This storm has long been gathering. Literary agencies have refused to sign e-rights deals for countless backlist books with traditional publishers, even though they and their clients, no doubt, see real benefits in having a single publisher handle the print and electronic rights to a book. Knowledgeable authors and agents, however, are well aware that e-book royalty rates of 25% of net proceeds are exceedingly low and contrary to the long-standing practice of authors and publishers to, effectively, split evenly the net proceeds of book sales.

Today (August 24 2010), Random House and Wylie announced a deal that marked a victory for the publisher in this most recent skirmish over the rights to digitally exploit backlist titles:

We are pleased to announce that The Wylie Agency and Random House have resolved our differences over the disputed Random House titles which have been included in the Odyssey Editions e-book publishing program. These titles are being removed from that program and taken off-sale. We have agreed that Random House shall be the exclusive e-book publisher of these titles for those territories in which Random House U.S. controls their rights.

As Kassia Krozser has commented, this was a skirmish. There will be others.

— —

Six months after the GBS hearing in the New York court, the world still wonders about the nature of the opinion that Judge Chin must eventually deliver. Most observers are skeptical that the settlement will be approved in its current form; conjecture is actually most heated around the possible endgames that might result from the parties – the Authors Guild; the five publishers from the original publishing suit and their associative organization, the AAP; and Google – being pressed back into active litigation.

The litigation process that brought us to this point started in 2005 with a class action filing by the Authors Guild; the AG’s lead attorney in the complaint was Michael Boni. (The publishers did not participate in a class action until they later procedurally joined the class action settlement proposal with Google.) At the time of its filing, the AG class action drew sharp criticism from not only Google, but many prominent authors as well, who did not believe their own perspectives were represented by the Authors Guild – a concern that would be echoed by many observers in detailed objections in the months ahead. The AG’s class action was then joined by a suit from five individual New York publishers alleging copyright infringement.

Eventually, a proposed class action settlement involving the Authors Guild, the publishers, and Google was entered before the Court. During the painful course of its two and a half year gestation, Google continued to digitize books from partner libraries. The proposed settlement was audaciously broad in scope, and secured opposition even from the U.S. Government’s Department of Justice [pdf] for – among other sins – the proposal’s departure from the motivations of the initial litigation.

One of the keystones of the settlement proposal is lodged in Attachment A (Author-Publisher Procedures), which attempts to clarify the digital rights issues that have brought authors and publishers so often to litigation or its brink. The proposal provides for a default bright line assignment of revenue from the exploitation of works included in the terms of the settlement. As Pamela Samuelson of UC Berkeley notes in a footnote of her filing [pdf] (Fn. 15) before the Court (Supplemental Academic Author Objections to the Google Book Search Settlement, Authors Guild, Inc. v. Google, Inc.):

Appendix A takes advantage of the settlement on other issues as to which Google is the antagonist to bring about a new allocation of copyright ownership, licensing, and reversion rights and procedures that, but for the settlement, could only have been accomplished through legislative action.

This outcome could never have independently arisen without the Google Book Search litigation. As Samuelson notes in the same paragraph:

Had Random House tried to resolve this e-book rights issue by bringing a class action lawsuit on behalf of a class of publishers against a class of authors in order to negotiate a settlement along the lines of Appendix A, the case would have been dismissed because the dispute would have involved both varying contract language and different state laws so that Rule 23 requirements could not have been satisfied.

— —

It is not too much to suggest that the conflict over ebook rights and royalties is one of the most outstanding irritants in the transition to digital publishing. It is an irritant that has drawn the Authors Guild and authors, and the AAP and publishers, into conflict time and time again. These actions have repeatedly involved the same small circle of actors – Paul Aiken, the Executive Director of the Authors Guild; Michael Boni, class action attorney for the Authors Guild; and Richard Sarnoff, the Co-Chairman of Bertelsmann, Inc. (responsible for the acquisition of Random House), the Chairman of the AAP, and widely attributed as an architect and lead negotiator for the GBS settlement.

In some lights, the proposed settlement in the Google Book Search case is really a proposed settlement in the conflict between the Authors Guild and the AAP over the exploitation of digital rights. Google, a bystander to that particular conflict, managed to drop a convenient litigation container for a class action settlement that could be alleged to contain all authors and publishers in a common agreement. The eventual proposal attempts to bring wholly new benefits to the other parties in the suits; benefits that Google might not have even imagined when it first began the Google Print program.

As Pamela Samuelson noted in Footnote 15 in her submission, Paul Aiken testified before Congress on this same point:

One of the reasons this thing [Attachment A] took 30 months to negotiate was that we weren’t just negotiating with Google. It was authors negotiating with publishers, and we rarely see eye to eye. So we had months and months and months of negotiations, trying to work out our differences.

These words echoed those that Paul Aiken had made almost a year previously, at the release of the first instantiation of the settlement in October 2008. As Library Journal noted:

We had a major disagreement with Google, and we still do,” said Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild. “We also don’t see eye-to-eye on with publishers on book contract law,” he added, before calling the settlement the “the biggest book deal” in U.S. publishing history. Aiken said two “guideposts” helped lead his organization through a thicket of issues in the suit. “Authors like their books to be read,” he noted, “and like they like a nice royalty check.”

It’s always nice to work out differences, but Google is arguably the party most likely to benefit out of all proportion to its potential liabilities from this divertissement. In the unlikely event that the settlement is approved, it moves forward on its merry way (subject of course to a lengthy appeals process). More likely, if the settlement is denied, it is difficult to envision a scenario where active litigation will re-commence. As a not necessarily naive bystander to the fundamental conflict between the AG and publishers, Google makes out like a bandit.

In the last five years, Google has amassed a singular and growing compendium of digital books; established a nascent rights registry; digitized historical Copyright Office renewal records; and moved to deepen commercial relations with publishers through its Google Editions service – whose release keeps coincidentally slipping in concert with the withering expectations of a summertime ruling from the SDNY. It is hard to imagine the AAP pursuing their case when Google is a useful potential ally in the publishers’ ongoing ebook pricing struggles with Apple and Amazon, which have themselves drawn scrutiny by State Attorney Generals.

And for the AG, it will have lost a most critical product: a determination of royalty revenue for the digital editions of backlist books that would have taken much of the provocation away for continuing uncertainty and conflict with publishers. With not that much to gain on the flip side.

— —

The firefight between Wylie and Random House, and AG’s strong public interest in its outcome, highlights the fact that the struggle to obtain mutually perceived value in royalty outcomes for backlist titles is very much a matter of the moment. The AG’s engagement on behalf of its clientele in the rights and royalty struggles emerging over the next few years grow ever more at odds with the terms it has attempted to obtain through the proposed settlement.

Those terms – certainly for prominent authors and their estates – are increasingly likely to be improved when aggressively negotiated by authors or their agents, or when titles are re-published digitally through new publishing ventures, such as those established by well-known and highly respected agents – e.g., Andrew Wylie’s Odyssey Books, Richard Curtis’ E-Reads, and Scott Waxman’s Diversion Books. Independent self-publishing firms such as Smashwords promise to bring mid-tier authors of backlist titles equally promising results when they take back titles for themselves.

The participation of the ASJA and the NWU in the Open Book Alliance, which contests the proposed GBS settlement, suggests that not all author agencies believe these issues can best be determined through this particular resolution.

As the summer months march into autumn, a historical engagement of a small circle of actors around the Authors Guild and the AAP may be increasingly misaligned from the interests of their larger, and evolving, constituencies.

24 Responses to “Eye to eye: The Authors Guild, Random House, and GBS”

  1. bowerbird Says:

    once again, peter, you’ve left out of the equation
    the general public, who has been reduced to the
    role of the sucker with the wallet to pay for it all.

    let’s hope there’s something left after the bankers
    have finished picking our pockets…

    -bowerbird


  2. Jerome Garchik Says:

    Peter

    It would be most helpful if someone could give us the ranges of author/publisher splits of e mail revenues promised in the Google Book Settlement, the recent publisher partner deals with Google, with Andrew Wylie, and by Amazon and Apple i-books site.
    The Class Action Settlement (GBS) gives author/publishers at least 63%(less the Book Rights Registry cut), compared to 80% for authors at SCRIBD . What deal did Wylie get for his blue ribbon stable (Hunter Thompson, Norman Mailer, etc)?

    J Garchik, SF Attorney


  3. bowerbird Says:

    google started this project with their heart in the right place.

    then selfish parties started sending in their lawyers to obtain
    a bigger piece of the pie, and google figured that they could
    rip off the public to pay off the selfish parties and the lawyers.

    there’s gonna be a revolution, i tell you, and heads will roll…

    -bowerbird


  4. Frances Grimble Says:

    What REALLY matters is that authors retain control of copyrights they have not explicitly and voluntarily transferred to Google or to their publisher, and not have those rights signed away against their will either by the proposed Settlement, or by any other mechanism.

    I, for example, own e-rights to all my self-published books. I do not want them published in e-form, ever, by anyone. (At least, not while they are still under copyright, which copyright exceeds my lifespan.) My feeling is that sales of e-books not protected by effective DRM (which does not seem to currently exist) will be gutted by piracy within a few years, making attempts to sell them increasingly worthless. I can’t afford that—it takes me longer than that just to recoup my print costs.

    Some other publishers and authors disagree with my publishing model. That is fine. As long as they have either created the work, or voluntarily sold or licensed e-rights and other rights (the Settlement also lets Google seize print-in-demand rights), it’s legal. If they choose a business model and it turns out badly for them, they chose it and it is their affair.

    It is NOT, however, anyone’s right to force their business model (of unprotected e-books, of POD books, and of forced distribution through Google, with Google taking a cut) on me, seize whatever revenues they wish from my work, and blithely let me suffer the loss of my livelihood.

    I am aware, by the way, that “the public” thinks it is in their interest to get books for nothing or almost nothing. However, publishers need to stay in business and authors need to pay for their groceries. There is simply no incentive for them to work for nothing, nor is it reasonable to expect creators of works to become a slave class for the benefit of others (most of whom are earning far more than the creators of works even now).


  5. Pete Says:

    Frances,

    I hear you on the DRM, and whether you want to have e-editions of our works is clearly your own business, but if piracy is your only worry, that seems like a mistake. If someone wants to crack the DRM on your books to make an easy-to-copy digital edition, what’s to stop them digitising the physical copy?


  6. bowerbird Says:

    frances grimble said:
    > What REALLY matters is that authors retain control of copyrights they have
    > not explicitly and voluntarily transferred to Google or to their publisher,
    > and not have those rights signed away against their will either by
    > the proposed Settlement, or by any other mechanism.

    um, no, frances, that’s not what “really” matters at all.

    that’s just your selfish take on the situation, that’s all.

    despite the way its purpose has been perverted in recent times,
    the _intention_ of copyright is to benefit the course of progress.

    we now have a miraculous tool at our disposal — cyberspace —
    which allows us to propagate material for a virtual cost of zero,
    and the course of progress _demands_ that we utilize this tool…

    so don’t act like you as an individual can veto this amazing path,
    any more than you could stop an interstate freeway from plowing
    through your backyard if we decide that’s the best place to put it.

    and yes, dear frances, we know you need to “pay for groceries”,
    and nobody’s gonna move you out of your backyard without first
    making sure you’ve been fairly compensated via eminent domain.
    if your content is worthy — and i assume that it is — then it will
    probably see _more_ usage in the new system, and you’ll be paid
    _more_ in the long run than you ever have been paid in the past.
    but that’s beside the point that you need to put away your greed.

    so take your selfish mentality and go sit yourself in the corner,
    and don’t come out until you’re ready to be a member of society.
    the same society who has paid their tax money for the libraries
    who paid good money to buy books — your books and others —
    and shelve them for people — including you, frances — to read.
    you have benefitted from an educated populace, tremendously,
    benefitted by living in an educated society, and now you wanna
    pull out and claim to be a sole individual? yeah, right. selfish.

    and you publishers? just go sit in the corner alongside frances…

    and google? you too. we’re not going to let you rip us off either.

    and to the library at the university of michigan? _shame_on_you_.
    trying to rip off end-users and other libraries. what got into you?
    you are the worst of the worst offenders here, and i _spit_ on you.

    all of you greedy people, and your me me me me me me me me…
    you should be ashamed of yourselves…

    -bowerbird


  7. Frances Grimble Says:

    Uh, Bowerbird: Why, exactly, is it greedy for authors to need fair pay for their work, just like members of other professions? Why is this public that does not want to pay directly for their books, therefore covering authors’ rent and groceries so they can create those books? Why is it somehow fair for creators of works to slave for the benefit of other “members of society,” who loudly assert their right to endless freebies?

    I’ve read the Google Settlement several times. I had my lawyer read it. With his help, I legally withdrew from the Settlement, which actually, _guarantees_ me hardly any compensation whatever. (This gives me the right to join in any class action suit for further violations, which I and many other authors firmly intend to do.) Other than $60.00 per book scanned (per title), not per copy–a whopping $420.00 total for 18 years of labor and hundreds of thousands of dollars of my own savings invested! (Since my latest two books are still at the printer, I assume Google has not scanned them . . . yet.) I’m barely making it as it is. To think that I used to have nice 9-5 jobs at corporations, where they not only paid me significantly more, I got health insurance and vacations! Instead of having to work every evening and every weekend just to keep my business afloat.

    Look, when everyone else enters a socialist economy, where they all contribute their labor and goods free too, maybe I’ll join. However, I am not going to become a slave to educate and entertain people who are far better paid than I am, and who hold my work in such contempt that they assert it’s not worth paying for.

    For your benefit, let me point something out. The Settlement makes it very clear that Google’s motive is massive profit. They are going to SELL those books to the public, not give them away. Read the terms of the Settlement–not Google’s PR.


  8. Frances Grimble Says:

    Bowerbird: I spent seven years working on my last book, four of them full time. Even setting aside my very substantial monetary costs in both writing and producing it, four years of labor is not a “cost of zero.” Writing books is hard work, just like any other job. And just like members of any other profession, writers want to be paid for all that hard work.

    I am sure my doctors, my dentist, and my lawyer all want to benefit society–and do so. They seem genuinely concerned about their patients/clients and they do good work. I imagine pretty much everyone who does work or makes goods for me, from the farmers who grow my food, to electrician who just fixed my wiring for DSL, to the garbage/recycling company that comes by once a week, believes they are benefiting society and indeed, does so.

    However, they all also not only want, but need, to be paid. So do writers. If it’s not selfish for my electrician to need pay, it’s not selfish for me either.

    I live in an area where $100,000 a year is an average middle-class income and indeed, necessary to own a home and meet the costs of living. I don’t see the Google Settlement providing that to me. And you know, even writers want to save money to educate their children and for retirement. Even writers have lost money and jobs due to the recession.

    So why, exactly, is it selfish for them to want and need all those things, but not selfish for everyone else? What, exactly, gives you the right to dictate what you (do not) pay for other people’s hard work and financial investments–other than your own greed?

    If you do not want to read a book, do not buy it. If you do not want to buy a book or cannot afford it, you do not have to read it. No one is forcing you to buy books . . . but you are not entitled to get them for free.

    Except by borrowing in interlibrary loaning books from your local library . . . which you can already do without any intervention (and, NOT coincidentally, profit-taking) on Google’s part. And no, scanning millions of copies of a copyrighted work without permission and distributing them is NOT the same thing as a library loan. There is a matter of scale. Publishers’ and authors’ incomes can withstand a few hundred copies of a book sold to libraries, each of which is borrowed by a handful of people. When the circulation of freebies (pirated or not) reaches the level that not enough copies are sold to fund writing or publishing the books . . . those books cannot be published or written.


  9. Frances Grimble Says:

    Bowerbird:

    I will say one more thing. You appear to be confusing Google with the US government, given your talk of “paying taxes” and “eminent domain.” Google is not the US government, nor any government (Google has also scanned many works copyrighted in countries other than the US). Google does not have the sanction of the US government. Indeed, the US Justice Department recommended to the court that it reject the Google Settlement.

    As for my “benefiting from living in an educated society”: I benefited enormously from the fact that my parents could afford to send me to college, pay for all my textbooks, and pay for my living expenses while I was a student, so I could concentrate on my studies instead of waiting tables. Because, my parents both were paid for their own work.

    The US is not a socialist country. “Taxes” are not supporting everyone if you don’t happen to feel like paying for the services and goods those people produce, but want them given to you free.


  10. Frances Grimble Says:

    Pete,

    The easier it is to pirate books (and other intellectual property), the more people do it. It’s like, almost everyone locks their front door (and any other outer doors they may have), when they are not at home, and at night when they are asleep. Can a professional burglar hack a lock? Absolutely. But at least random people will not walk in off the street and carry stuff off. Which cuts down the risk of thievery a great deal.

    Some people do things like, install iron bars that have additional locks, and install burglar alarms. A professional burglar can hack those too, but again, you’ve made it harder.

    Also, the easier it is to pirate material, and the more widely pirated material is distributed without repercussions, the more morally OK people think it is. If you are not protecting stuff, they start to feel entitled to it and assert that you “mean” to give it away. I live in a “safe,” middle-income, middle-class urban neighborhood with comparatively little street traffic. Where, if I leave anything of value on the front lawn overnight (like a lawnmower), it’s sure to be gone by morning. And, if I have a car with a notice that there is an alarm, but no actual alarm, the stereo is gone by morning. I’m pretty sure it my “nice” neighbors, the people I nod hello when I meet them, who stole some of these things. But I didn’t protect them . . . so someone felt entitled to steal them.


  11. Frances Grimble Says:

    Bowerbird,

    Since I’m fed up with the incredibly selfish rhetoric of college students on this subject, I’ll say yet one more thing. The purpose of copyright law is to give incentive to creators of works, by giving them the right to do their best to sell or license those works and make money from them, in the ways that work best for that writer.

    Writing a book is not like writing a blog post or a website. A professional quality of work is required to compete in this vigorous marketplace. It requires very considerable expertise, labor, and most often, the assistance of a number of other professionals who do not work for free. Such as editors, illustrators, graphic artists, indexers, translators, proofreaders, marketers . . . Then publishing a professional work also requires services, such as accounting and legal services. It requires computer and other equipment, office supplies, and research materials.

    And no one is giving these services or goods away to the writer or publisher.

    Nobody, in other words, is going to write a book just to get petted on an e-list. Let alone screamed at for charging for the book, or bombarded with threats about piracy or “revolution.”

    There is simply no incentive for anyone to create a work if they are not paid. There is certainly no incentive for anyone to take a day job, or find a supplementary way to sell the information they’ve created or ads within it, just to give you freebies and cheapies. There is no incentive for anyone to rearrange their lives, by moving to a cheaper apartment or part of the country, just to give you freebies. There is no incentive for anyone to quit supporting their children, elderly parents, or other dependents, just to give you freebies. There is no incentive for anyone to give up the security of savings, retirement accounts, or health insurance, just to give you freebies.

    There is no incentive for anyone to rearrange their lives or live on a shoestring, just to give you freebies.

    “Information should be free” advocates seem to think writing is some kind of compulsion, and writers will practically pay their readers just to continue writing, and be grateful to do so. Bull. First, it’s a job/profession just like any other, not days of fun-filled magic. Second, there are a large number of corporate settings where people can write technical manuals, PR materials, grant proposals, and oodles of other material, while drawing a decent salary, with a paid-for office and office supplies, health benefits, vacations, even things like a subsidized company cafeteria. I’ve done it and though I prefer running my own company, would do it again. Third, if displaced in their professions as writers, most of us have other skills and can manage to do something else. I have several well-honed, alternative, marketable skills myself.

    In other words, NO ONE is FORCED to provide you with ANY freebies, or even cheapies. And barring outright piracy by either individuals or corporations such as Google (who does, howeve, plan to charge for books–the program is currently called Google Editions), comparatively few people will provide you with free, professional-level books. Why on earth should they?


  12. bowerbird Says:

    ooh boy, i knew i would be getting an earful of spit in return… :+)

    and i knew you wouldn’t read what i actually wrote, but would
    instead project onto me the very thing you so want to detest…

    so, for instance, i did _not_ say that writers should not be paid, or
    that society shouldn’t have to pay. for the record, eminent domain
    requires a fair purchase price. and currently, libraries pay for books.

    and yes, i’m quite acutely aware that google’s motive is profit…
    they have made that clear ever since the settlement was drafted.
    which is why i said we’d put google in the selfish corner with you.

    so, since you addressed a bogeyman and not what i actually wrote,
    i feel no need to respond to your multiple messages from the corner.

    again, frances, you (and your lawyer) can come out of that corner
    when you are ready to be a member of society. until then, nope…

    -bowerbird


  13. Frances Grimble Says:

    Bowerbird,

    If you are willing to compensate authors fairly, why do you object to just buying a legitimate discount copy of the book on Amazon, or used? Which, by the way, entitles you–or a library–to NO copyrights whatsoever. All you get is the right to read it, not republish or distribute it, which is what posting scans is. But if you’re willing to pay fairly for books, why do you need Google or the Internet Archive at all? I mean, I own several thousand books myself and even on a writer’s income, I was able to afford them. I mean really, why not concentrate on getting the government to give you something really expensive that you need, housing or something?


  14. bowerbird Says:

    frances, let’s take your pitiful contribution out of the whole equation, ok?

    which — by the way — is essentially what you have ensured by “opting out”
    of the google settlement. all of the work that is inside the settlement will be
    available on a massive scale, which means that everything which is _outside_
    will be virtually invisible. nobody’s gonna negotiate with you as an individual
    to buy your stuff, not after they spent all their money to buy the big package.
    so you have just shot yourself in the foot, thanks to your insistent selfishness.
    which i would say is how karma is supposed to work. but ignore that for now.

    let’s just talk about all of the other content out there _besides_ your stuff, ok?

    the idea is to make all of that content — the accumulated wisdom of the tribe
    — available to everyone in the tribe, to make the tribe smarter and more wise.
    in making the whole tribe smarter and more wise, everyone in the tribe benefits.
    (bonus points if you recognize this is the essential logic for educating our young.)

    now substitute “society” for “tribe” in the above paragraph.

    next change “society” to “world”. maybe then you will get the idea. maybe not.

    but whether frances understands the idea or not, lots of people out here _do_.

    so we’re gonna make it happen, whether you like it or not.

    we’re gonna pass wisdom around, digitally, as samizdat, and you can’t stop us.

    and we’re not gonna let you subvert it. we’re not gonna let google subvert it.
    we’re not gonna let greedy capitalists subvert it, or slimy lawyers, or _anyone_.

    maybe you didn’t notice, but thanks to a little tool called “napster”, millions of
    college kids “stole” nearly the entirety of recorded music about a decade back.

    contrary to your wildly incorrect supposition, i’m not a college kid. and i didn’t
    partake in the “liberation” of music, because i don’t care about silly love songs…

    but let me tell you this, i _do_ care about the accumulated wisdom of society.
    and i’m not gonna let anyone hold it for ransom, or put up a toll booth on it…

    but hey, i’m an old man, so you don’t need to worry about me. i’m too slow…

    but believe me, there are lots of young’uns out there who get the idea too, and
    they’re not gonna let you stop them. they’re gonna outsmart you, outfox you,
    outlast you, and outbox you; they’re gonna outkick you, outlick you, outwit you.
    they’re gonna run circles around you, and if you whine, they will laugh at you…

    they’re not gonna let you ruin their future.

    -bowerbird


  15. Frances Grimble Says:

    Uh, Bowerbird:

    Information is disseminated even when people have to pay for it. What do you think has been happening since before the Gutenberg press was invented? Books are already available to everyone. Have been for a very long time.

    And don’t talk nonsense about how books have to be distributed when you clearly know absolutely nothing about the publishing industry. There is already a huge network of distributors, bookstores, review media, etc.

    And, although you seem to hope piracy will mean you personally get a free ride on everything that has already been created, there is no incentive for anyone to _continue_ creating works for your delectation if all those authors, editors, graphic artists, illustrators, translators, etc. are not paid.

    Of course, as you’re merely a parasite who displays no evidence that you actually have a paying job (and therefore understand that other people need to be paid for their work), and you display no evidence of having read much (since you apparently have no ability to reason, or to research the subjects you spout off on), you don’t care.

    Never mind. I should get back to work and quit feeding the troll. But if this is the type of person who supports the Internet Archive, the Internet Archive should be embarrassed.


  16. bowerbird Says:

    frances, you’re not listening.

    it’s _not_ about “a free ride”. that’s just your selfish mind, projecting itself onto the world.

    no, quite the opposite, it’s about people making a conscious, rational decision to _share_,
    because that’s the most cost-effective thing to do when the cost of sharing drops to zero.

    you seem to think that it’s all about people ripping you off. you couldn’t be more wrong.
    it’s about people heaping the riches of society on your plate past the point of overflowing.

    on _your_ plate, frances…

    so if you’re only writing to “get paid”, then put down your pen, frances. the world simply
    doesn’t need your book, and we’re gonna feed you (and everyone else) more than enough.

    on the other hand, if you’re writing because you have an innate need to be heard, then
    we will make sure that the world has a chance to hear what you have to say, frances…

    i’m confident there will be no shortage of books.

    -bowerbird

    p.s. the mission of the internet archive is “universal access to human knowledge”…
    just in case you didn’t know…


  17. Frances Grimble Says:

    Really, Bowerbird? Since you don’t want to pay for my work, how exactly are you planning to “feed me”? What, exactly, are you planning to “share” with me? What are you personally bringing to the table?

    Nothing. Just another parasite.


  18. bowerbird Says:

    frances, you’re not listening.

    and since there’s no one else here right now, as far as i know,
    it does me little good to keep talking if you are not listening…

    so i’m gonna go now.

    in parting, though, i will ask you one question:

    do you know the process by which your neighborhood library provides
    “access to human knowledge” to the people there in your neighborhood?

    we’ll use cyberspace to provide that same “access to human knowledge”
    to everyone on the face of the planet.

    now, when you’re ready to share, you can come out from the corner…

    -bowerbird


  19. Frances Grimble Says:

    Actually, Bowerbird, I’ve sold books to libraries. They paid me for each copy. As long as they do that, fine. If they make an infinite amount of copies to “share” with everyone, without paying me, I go broke.

    I don’t do a deal involving a very large time of my time and money without seeing a contract that guarantees me a fair reward. “Slave for us, spend money for us, and someone will probably pay you, not me personally, I don’t know who, and if no one does we’re sure you’ll continue delivering anyway because you somehow feel compelled to ‘express yourself’ or to ‘share’–and by the way we’re doing our best to destroy all the other industry mechanisms by which you are currently being paid”

    is a ridiculous contract that no one in their right mind would sign. Even writers.


  20. Frances Grimble Says:

    I should add, that libraries pay me full price for direct orders of one book (I have one right here beside me), less if the order goes through a wholesaler, but not peanuts. I still lose money on library orders, because of the individuals who don’t buy, and I’ve considered not selling to them at all, but the losses are currently at a bearable level. If they increased, I would have to quit selling to libraries and also to wholesalers who sell to them.

    For anyone who’s actually thinking about this issue, and just not lying on the floor screaming “GIMEEEEE! I WAAAAANA!”–the economic system that sustains production of books is just barely limping by, and won’t take many more blows before it becomes an industry that far fewer people will be able to work in. Thereby, considerably decreasing production of professional-level books. The entitlement crowd’s little dream of their very own Third World within the US, where deluded creators of works slave to create books, music, and movies for hardly any pay because it makes us darkies happy and we’re too ignorant to care, is just that, a pipe dream. Writers and others who work in the industry are thankfully not living in a Third World situation of entrapment where they have to produce running shoes for 50 cents a day. They tend to have good educations and marketable skills and can relatively easily just do something else.


  21. bowerbird Says:

    it is both unfortunate and misleading that
    “discussions” like this one get bogged down
    like this one, in skirmishes with individuals
    who think if they just whine loudly enough,
    they can somehow influence the decision…

    because it causes us to miss the big picture.

    so let me return to the larger issues at hand.

    google helped elect obama as president, and
    they will help elect the next president, and
    the next president, and the one after that too.

    and let us not forget they have plenty of money.

    so they have good access to the political realm…

    and this is what google is saying in the back offices
    of the white house and the senate office building…

    > “the core competence of google is making sense
    > out of huge piles of text. that’s what we did with
    > the web, where most of the text was ‘garbage’,
    > and we _still_ managed to make sense out of it.
    > and that’s what we’re now doing with the text from
    > the books that we have scanned, which — because
    > they contain highly vetted information — we have
    > created amazing models that can ‘make sense of it’.
    > the results we’ve obtained so far are stupendous,
    > and we’ve only just begun on the tip of the iceberg.”

    they will continue…

    > “because of the lawsuits, we can’t announce stuff,
    > but the models we’re building now are revolutionary.
    > they will help push progress along the infrastructure
    > in research, education, and libraries across the land.
    > we’re talking about _major_advances_ in fields like
    > chemistry, biology, physics, genetics, and nanotech —
    > huge leaps that will fuel an engine of financial growth,
    > big enough to replace all the money the bankers stole,
    > and vault the united states back to world leadership…”

    and here they pull in a kicker…

    > “_unless_ the chinese get there first, that is… we’re
    > ahead of them now, at least as far as we can tell, but
    > we know they’re working on this too, and they’re smart,
    > and we can’t afford to go slow, or they will pass us by…
    > and while we believe that our knowledge-base is superior,
    > it would be a mistake to underestimate what they have.”

    and they then document their invulnerability…

    > “the lawsuits don’t make a difference. our people say
    > the models we are building are quite robust, even with
    > just the tip of the iceberg. when we add in more data,
    > the models don’t change any, they just get stronger…
    > even if a boatload of publishers and authors ‘opt out’,
    > we’ll still have more than enough data to move forward.
    > but we still want a clear mandate, so we can proceed in
    > an unequivocal manner to make america great again…”

    imagine you’re a politician sitting in one of those back rooms.
    how do you say no to this? how do you say no to google?

    -bowerbird


  22. Frances Grimble Says:

    There is this little thing called copyright law, which Google has not abolished.

    Please point me to your source of your quotes from Google’s statements. I assume they are from a written, verifiable source–where is it?


  23. Frances Grimble Says:

    I should add, that numerous creators of works object to the Google Settlement because, as I’ve said, it would deprive us of control over the sales of our work, payment for our work, and uses such as juxtaposition with ads for material we may find morally, politically, or otherwise offensive.

    I am, by the way, not a stranger to artificial intelligence search techniques. My husband is a researcher and programmer in artifical intelligence, and has worked with ontology, among other things. He is also a creator of works (computer programs). (For which he is paid, by the way.)

    However, I do not think the creation of a book search tool–to Google’s massive profit, of course–justitifes one powerful corporation siezing millions of works and violating their copyrights, as Google has done.

    As for politicians, they are elected and can be voted out of office.


  24. Frances Grimble Says:

    I should also add, that although it is illegal, unethical, and culturally destructive for Google to sieze all these works, the situation would be merely worsened if Microsoft and everyone else did it too. Basically, creators of works could kiss goodbye to almost all their income from and control over those works. Which there is no incentive for them to do.

    I find it ironic that Google’s own business, software, is highly dependent on its own intellectual property, the copyrights and patents that Google holds. Their programmers are working for high wages and employee benefits, yet, Google thinks writers should not be paid.